Q&A with rock n’ roller Boone Froggett, frontman/guitarist of OTIS, staying connected to their Kentucky roots

"Southern rock takes all the best of the American roots music forms and cooks it all down to one flavor. So, depending on the listeners music taste & knowledge you can start to pick up on all the different influences. I can’t think of any other genres that can encompass that many styles. It’s a passing down of our culture and makes you feel like you’re part of something."

OTIS: Kentucky Grown Rock & Roll! 

Rock n’ rollers OTIS, hailing from the genre blending pot of Kentucky USA make a warm welcome return with a new groove laden, swampy single and video ‘There’s A Break In The Road’ (2024). Bringing their unique and spiced recipe to the Betty Harris soul classic, Boone Froggett (frontman/guitarist) tells the tale, “A few years back I bought a New Orleans soul compilation LP for three bucks at Habersham Records, a cool spot in Macon, Georgia specialising in used blues, soul, and gospel records. I threw it in my collection and didn't think too much more about it.” While it would be easy to categorise them as southern rock, their musical palette is clearly much broader. Alongside Boone, John Seeley (bass), Alex Wells (guitar), and Dale Myers (drums), the tight-knit guys stay connected to their homegrown roots having been around traditional instruments from a young age in piano, fiddle, and guitar instilling in them an appreciation of country-rock, bluegrass and folk music.

(Otis: Boone Froggett, John Seeley, Alex Wells, Dale Myers / Photo by Megan Morrison, MM Photography)

Recorded in a live full band take at The Rock House in Franklin Tennessee, the single features electric piano and mixing by renowned Grammy Award winning musician Kevin McKendree (Brian Setzer, George Thorogood) and mastering courtesy of Ty Tabor of the acclaimed US rock band Kings X. Previously, a chance meeting with Billy F Gibbons led to the legend listening and becoming a fan of the band - even handing their albums off to the likes of Buddy Guy and Jeff Beck and previous US/UK tours have included sharing bills with ZZ Top, The Kentucky Headhunters and Blackberry Smoke. With new original music in their pockets to come later this year encompassing melodic howling vocals, slick intertwining guitars, soulful grooves and a band steeped in musical heritage…that’s OTIS.

Interview by Michael Limnios                   Special Thanks: Wes O'Neill (O'Neill PR)

How has the Rock n’ Blues music influenced your views of the world? Where does your creative drive come from?

Being in a blues rock band has not only influenced my views of the world, it’s shown me the world. It’s taken me to places I would’ve never dreamed of going. How does a band from rural Kentucky end up playing a castle in Wales UK?! It just goes to show you that people have more common threads than you think, and music is truly a universal language. Ultimately, I’m driven by the people who listen and support what we’re doing. When we have the opportunity to play in front of people “who get it” it takes this band to heights that we couldn’t reach without the singular energy of everyone in the room.

How do you describe OTIS sound, music philosophy and songbook? What's the balance in music between technique and soul?

OTIS is four guys playing for our lives, we’re the strongest we’ve ever been and we deeply understand what we want to be as a band. Hitting on human emotions is the goal for us, when people come up to us after a show and say “your music helped me through a tough time or hardship” we know we’re hitting the mark! That’s what B.B. King, The Allman Brothers & the rest of our heroes have done for us, so it’s nice to cosmically pay back the favor. On the scale of technique & soul we try to weigh heavier on the soul element. Technique can be taught over time but you either have soul or you don’t. The ability to make someone else feel what we feel is an amazing gift and we don’t use it carelessly.

"In my opinion blues is a sacred American art form and so many things have grown on the roots of blues & jazz. It had the power to bring people together when the world was more divided, which isn’t surprising considering all the gospel and folk influences that drive the blues." (Otis: Boone Froggett on guitar and vocals, John Seeley on bass, Alex Wells on guitar, Dale Myers on drums / Photo by Megan Morrison)

Why do you think that Southern Rock music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Southern rock takes all the best of the American roots music forms and cooks it all down to one flavor. So, depending on the listeners music taste & knowledge you can start to pick up on all the different influences. I can’t think of any other genres that can encompass that many styles. It’s a passing down of our culture and makes you feel like you’re part of something.

What moment changed your music life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

Getting the new line-up of the band solidified was a big moment for me. We had lost two members, and it was just John & myself figuring out what was next. John & I had gone to see Gov’t Mule and we had the opportunity to visit after the show. The first thing Warren said was “Alright boys, when is Otis firing back up?” Getting that kind of encouragement from someone we look up to really put the wind back in us.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

As you can probably tell, we love to jam and that’s brought along some really special experiences for us. Back in December we played a regional benefit show for the Son Rhea foundation called “Jambodians” in Bowling Green, KY and Greg Martin of The Kentucky Headhunters sat in with us for the whole set and it was an amazing experience having a three-guitar version of the band and he took us to a whole new territory musically. It was one of those moments where you come off stage and wonder “How did we do that?” Playing with people of his caliber can really make you reach. Greg and all of The Headhunters have been great mentors and helped keep our heads above the water, haha!

"On the scale of technique & soul we try to weigh heavier on the soul element. Technique can be taught over time but you either have soul or you don’t. The ability to make someone else feel what we feel is an amazing gift and we don’t use it carelessly." (Boone Froggett of The Otis Band, staying connected to his Kentucky roots / Photo by Megan Morrison, MM Photography)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

The thing that really gets me about music from the 60’s & 70’s was the talent level of the performances and the songwriting. Bands were constantly breaking new ground and delivering a new sonic experience. It was an album-oriented movement and a really special time in music. Now we’re creating one-minute videos and hoping that thirty seconds gets viewed before someone scrolls to the next thing. The devaluation of recorded music has made it a challenge to garner attention and focus in the modern world. But, live shows are booming, vinyl sales have risen so there’s still a lot of “real” people out there keeping the rock & roll dream alive for all of us. Tickets and T-shirts are what makes it viable to be in the game these days!

What is the impact of the Blues and Jazz on the racial and socio-cultural implications?  How do you want it to affect people? How do you want the music to affect people?

In my opinion blues is a sacred American art form and so many things have grown on the roots of blues & jazz. It had the power to bring people together when the world was more divided, which isn’t surprising considering all the gospel and folk influences that drive the blues. Events like Wattstax in 1973 and B.B. King playing Sing Sing Prison in 1972 really made the world a lot smaller and brought blues back to the forefront of culture along with help from English rock bands like The Stones, Foghat & countless others.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Music has taught me so many powerful lessons in how people should be treated. So many turn to music when their chips are down or they want to forget about the world for a while. So, we try to take everyone in and treat them like family during our shows. We love visiting with people after the show. We’ll still be hanging out and signing albums while they’re sweeping the floors at the venue. Without the crowd music is powerless, this whole experience is driven by us all getting together and becoming as one.

The Otis Band - Home

(Otis: Boone Froggett, John Seeley, Alex Wells, Dale Myers / Photo by Megan Morrison, MM Photography)

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